Part two of our one to one series saw Alex & I sit down with the charismatic Marco Negri. The goal scoring sensation who set our game a light scoring with every touch.
Marco had a reputation as a ‘moodyblue’ but the truth is far from it, he is a kind and well spoken man with a love for our great club. So when I spoke to Marco and he agreed to do this I was naturally thrilled.
I was just 14 when Marco set on the goal trail with his sensational movement and finishing ability, captured my imagination instantly. So I was keen to discuss his career starting with his time in his native home land
Marco, You had spells at Cosenza & Perugia, How did these prepare you for a bigger career move in the form of Rangers?
I truly think that when you are a young player, every season an experience, also the negative one, is a step forward to become a better athlete.
With the Cosenza’s top, Zaccheroni was the manager, I started to score regularly finishing with 19 goals and so many good performances. I grew up and myself confidence rose, very important aspect for a big step…Rangers.
When it was evident this move would be Rangers what did you know of the club & living in Scotland?
I knew about Rangers because in the previous years they played in U C L against Juventus, so I watched the games on TV thinking what amazing atmosphere it was at Ibrox. I was been many times in London, but never in Scotland, so I was very excited to see for the first time a new country. The Highlands were waiting, now to say goodbye to the Italian sun.
What was your first impressions of Rangers & what made you keen to sign?
When I arrived at Ibrox to sign my contract with Rangers I immediately understood that I was arrived in a special place, an amazing mix between history and modern, I was shocked (in a positive way) and the stadium was empty. My debut at Ibrox in front of 50000 fans, the most passionate in the world, made me feel like a very lucky player, not many players have never tried such unbelievable emotion.
You hit the ground running scoring goals a plenty, how did you settle & enjoy Scotland?
The Italian connection of Gattuso, Porrini and Amoruso made me feel the new adventure abroad easier. Then my fiancé enjoyed the new life with me, so I settled down very quickly in a live city plenty of interesting sites where you can have fun and relax.
On the pitch, scoring goals for fun, and playing alongside such legends like Laudrup, Gazza, Albertz that give to you plenty of good assist during the game, turned my move in a spectacular new challenge.
Your style became an enigma to some & the press focused heavily on your celebrations. How did the reporting of your famous ‘non celebration’ affect you?
I’ve plenty of photos of me, smiling and celebrating with fans and teammates after a goal with the Rangers top. My ‘moody’ nickname came after the game versus Dundee United, where after 5 personal goals, it is true I didn’t celebrate but I made clear so many times that I was upset with a member of the staff during that game, but just for that game.
In that game you famously scored 5 goals, you credit the volley as your best Rangers goal – what do you remember from this?
Well, scoring 5 goals in just one game is something that I’ve never dreamed when I was a boy, scoring a beautiful long chip after 2 sombreros collecting a Gazza’s perfect pass, is a magic moment.
Watching now again that goal, I still can feel the goosebumps…
How many should & could you have got that season before your injury?
I’m often thinking about what if….but that’s life, sometimes you get some extra bonus, sometimes you’ve stolen. A football player is always expecting an injury, ankle, knee. But a squash ball hitting my right eye, damaging seriously the retina, in a day off is something that you are able to realise just many years later. Goals? Maybe 50… but my biggest regret is not been capable to win the 10 in a row for all the Rangers supporters.
What exactly happened to your eye?
During a Wednesday off I decided to keep in good shape going to play squash at LivingWell with Sergio Porrini. The game was perfect for a striker fitness, quick runs and reflex training. But I didn’t think that Porrini’s hands are even worst that his feet, so I’ve been hit by a squash ball at the speed of more than 100 km/h directly in my eye and I lost the retina. 2 months outside the pitch and all my dreams vanished.
What is your favourite memory of your time at Ibrox?
Of course every time I dressed the famous Rangers top, playing at Ibrox in a incredible atmosphere, in front a the most passionate and loyal supporters alongside so many legends …I’ve been a very lucky player, proud to have been part of your family.
Moving on now, you have become a successful author – how have you enjoyed telling your story?
My biggest happiness are the beautiful words and comments I still receive from many fans that read my book. I’ m so proud also for the Cross book award’s nomination I received few years ago for the best International Autobiography in London and excited for the new release in June by Pitch publisher of the new version of Moody Marco, paperback edition, with a new interesting chapter ‘Once a Rangers always a Rangers’ written with Jeff Holmes.
You have since returned to coaching at Udinese, how do you enjoy that?
My new job, striker’s coach, is something I’ve always dreamed about it. I’m very excited and focus trying my best to help the forwards to develop their game. Maybe one day I will be ready for the same role at Ibrox…..
Even now, many years later, what does Rangers & our supporters mean to you?
The relationships between player and fans is something really important and strong, that personally I enjoyed more after my career ended.
I wrote a chapter in my new version because I want to explain the special feeling that Rangers supporters give me everytime I’ m back at Ibrox for a charity game, a broadcasting event or during the Narsa conventions I’ve been part…. in a few words ‘Once a Rangers always a Rangers’.
Finally, Paul Gascoigne, how was it sharing a dressing room with him ?
What a genius on the pitch of course but especially what a character in the dressing room. How many socks he cut me or steal from me!
Very honoured to have played alongside him, the best midfielder after Cruyff, and proud to be a friend also outside the ground. It makes me feel so happy to see him in a good shape back for a recent Rangers game at Ibrox, a place where he belongs.
What is clear to me in speaking with Marco is that he isn’t the ‘moody’ Italian many report him to be. He is a very polite and well spoken professional who dearly loves our club. Of course he has regrets but he also cherishes the time he has with us and the welcome he receives coming back ‘home’ to Ibrox.
What will live with many is that injury and the what ifs but I will always be thankful to watch his goal scoring exploits. We have had many strikers but not many come close to the finishing ability of Marco, he had a tremendous ability and not to tap in either, his goals of extremely high quality. If he hadn’t had that fateful injury then who knows what could have happened, one thing for sure it would have involved goals.
Marco loved speaking with us and was happy to give up his free time to do so. He regularly attends charity events for his friend Fernando Ricksen and recently enjoyed a commentary stint on RTV with our very own Tom Miller. He is proud to be part of our history and as he said
‘Once a Ranger, always a Ranger’